The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will consider repealing a property tax benefit for seniors and persons with disabilities wishing to relocate to San Mateo County at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, February 26.

Proposition 90 provides anyone over the age of 55 with relief from Proposition 13 by allowing them to move from one county to another without undergoing a change in their basic property taxes. Proposition 90 stems from Propositions 60 and 110. Under these propositions, if a seller or spouse is over age 55 or if a seller of any age is disabled when their original residence is sold, the seller may transfer the base year value of their home to a replacement primary residence of equal or lesser value within the same county, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Proposition 90 extended this benefit to seniors and the disabled who move to counties that adopted Proposition 90 rules.

Since Proposition 90 is a “local-option” law, each county has the option of participating. If a county has adopted a Proposition 90 ordinance, it accepts transfers of property tax base assessments from other California counties. If the county that the homeowner is moving from does not have a Proposition 90 ordinance, this does not affect the eligibility of the homeowner. At present, there are only eight counties that have adopted the Prop. 90 ordinance – Santa Clara, Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, San Mateo, San Diego and Ventura.

In 2011, SILVAR REALTORS® successfully fought an attempt by Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone to eliminate the tax benefit for seniors and the disabled in Santa Clara County. Stone wanted the supervisors to eliminate Proposition 90 as a way to increase revenue, but SILVAR REALTORS® and senior residents objected to the proposal. More than 50 members from the SILVAR and the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) attended the county board of supervisors in June 2011 to oppose the elimination of Prop 90. Several recounted personal experiences with seniors and disabled clients who benefited from the measure, and who otherwise would not have been able to move to the county had the proposition not been in place.

In the end, the Santa Clara County supervisors listened and decided to continue to opt in on Proposition 90. “There is value to it at the personal level. We supported it then, we should support it now,” they said. The supervisors also noted, “It doesn’t feel right to take this away from the people who could use it. In the big picture, it just doesn’t feel right.”

San Mateo County’s seniors and disabled residents will be facing this dilemma when the ordinance is considered at the board of supervisors meeting next week. A majority vote by the supervisors is needed to repeal the proposition.

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